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Self-Gamification is an Art and a Game

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(An excerpt. Read the full article on Medium)

Self-Gamification is an art

Self-Gamification is an art of turning whatever we are up to into fun and engaging games for ourselves. It is the application of game design elements to our own lives.

It is also a self-help approach showing us how to be playful and gameful, and bringing anthropology, kaizen, and gamification-based methods together.

In Self-Gamification, we are both the designers and the players of our self-motivational games, which are the challenges, projects, and activities turned into games.

But wait a minute! It is an activity too. You need to be active in the design and play of the self-motivational games.

So it is also a game.


Self-Gamification is a game

I was surprised to have had this epiphany only recently, after gamifying my whole life for three years consistently, and parts of it for an even longer time.

But on the other hand and when looking at it anthropologically, it is not surprising at all. I wasn’t thinking that much about the game. I was playing it. And that is the only way to experience it as a game.

Only when I was challenged to play another game, the game of explaining how Self-Gamification works could I see it more clearly. That is a paradox. Which is why it makes sense since we humans are highly paradoxical beings.

Some time ago, I recalled how, when I was young, I rarely referred to what I was doing in my games or play as such. I was busy with some activities. I might have called them “games” or “play,” but I didn’t think of the terms when I was playing.

However, outside of the game’s or play’s realm, the gameful and playful activities seemed safe, and I could easily imagine doing them than a chore my mother had asked of me. Only when she shaped the idea of the chore as something enticing did I agree to give it a try to be entertaining. And I must admit that it did happen more often than not.


(Continue reading on Medium)

How to Turn Something or Anything into Games

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(An excerpt. Read the full article on Medium)

Self-Gamification is a lifestyle

The question is how to turn something or anything into games.

The answer is multi-faceted, and in a way, the “how?” embraces the answers to all the “W” questions: “who?”, “what?”, “when?”, “where?” and “why?”.

But the most important facet of how to turn our lives into games is that the gameful approach to life, Self-Gamification, just like those for our health, well-being, and happiness, is not a one-time pill to fix a problem once and for all, but a lifestyle. Because:

“Happiness is not a destination. It is a way of life.” — Anonymous


What is Self-Gamification?

So, what is this new approach to increasing self-motivation and bringing ourselves back on our happy path? And why the need for a new term?

First of all,

Self-Gamification is the art of turning our own lives into games.

Self-Gamification is not the same as gamification, although, as the name suggests, the former is based on the latter.

Gamification has become a buzzword, but many people, especially non-gamers but sometimes gamers as well, are still confused when they hear it. They recognize the “game” part, but not the word in its entirety.

One of the most common gamification definitions is

“the use of game design elements in non-game contexts.” — Deterding, S., Dixon, D., Khaled, R., & Nacke, L. (2011). From game design elements to gamefulness: defining gamification. In Proceedings of the 15th international academic MindTrek conference: Envisioning future media environments (pp. 9–15). ACM

Following on from this, therefore,

Self-Gamification is the application of game design elements to one’s own life.

You could also say that,

Self-Gamification is a self-help approach showing you how to be playful and gameful.

I felt the need to coin this new term for gamifying one’s life when I realized through self-observation that there is more at stake here than just learning from games and game design.

One of the gamification pioneers, Yu-kai Chou, pointed this out when he said that gamification is

“more than points, badges, and leaderboards.” — Yu-kai Chou, Actionable Gamification

The same applies to Self-Gamification.

Beyond this, there is an essential feature that distinguishes Self-Gamification from gamification as it is currently known. Here it is:

In Self-Gamification, you are both the designer AND the player of your self-motivational games.

So as a designer you take responsibility for how the game is developed. On the other hand, as a dedicated and highly interested player, you are responsible for playing the game, as well as giving the designer feedback on how it could be improved.

The design part is critical — which is taking responsibility for how fun and engaging your games are for yourself as a player. Without judging the player, you must create the best games for them, i.e. for yourself.

This is the primary difference between the Self-Gamification approach and the games and gamification frameworks designed by others. In Self-Gamification YOU, and no one else, have to develop your short (minutes or hours long), also daily, weekly, monthly, yearly, etc. games. You’ll do well playing other people’s games, but you will inevitably give your personal touch to each of the games when you play them, and it is your choice and responsibility for how you mix these games with those of your own design. Nobody else could do it for you even if you or they wanted to.

Now, let’s consider the three approaches Self-Gamification brings together to help you turn your life into fun games and have fun with everything or anything you are up to.


(Continue reading on Medium)

This was also an excerpt from my book . I hope you enjoyed it, and it inspired you to turn something into fun, for you, games. I invite you to check out the other resources on Self-Gamification here: .

What Does Turning Life into Games Bring during Times of Crisis?

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(An excerpt. Read the full article on Medium)

When people ask me why turning various projects and activities into fun games makes sense, I often start with a version of the following. If we perceive what we are up to, or what life brings our way, as fun games, of which we are both the designers (or at the very least co-designers) and players, then the drama and seriousness fall away.

But what should we do, if the situation we are in — such as the COVID-19 pandemic right now — is so dramatic, that lifting any burden seems like a drop of water on a hot stone (in German “Tropfen auf dem heißen Stein”), in other words, of no help at all?

Experiencing lockdown and the changing rhythm of my day brought another reason to the foreground. I was reminded that through the continuous practice of Self-Gamification,  unfolded easily for me and was a readily available tool.

Yes, this resourcefulness is a tremendous gift.

This resourcefulness starts with awareness, continues with a small step at a time, and culminates with everything that games and play provide. And here are the three main reasons that turning whatever we do or are facing into fun games facilitates effortless and joyful resourcefulness.

First of all, when we turn our lives into fun games, we turn them into safe environments, where we can experiment, be creative, without fear of failure. Or maybe even with this fear present but without resisting it and therefore not focusing on it. Instead, we can acknowledge it as an indicator of our big wish to level up in our lives’ games.

The second is the multi-dimensionality of games.

“The design and production of games involves aspects of cognitive psychology, computer science, environmental design, and storytelling, just to name a few. To really understand what games are, you need to see them from all these points of view.” — Will Wright in the foreword to Theory of Fun for Game Design by Raph Koster

So there is a lot to discover in games. They embrace so much. You could say they embrace our imagination, fantasy, the history of humanity, and beyond.

But there is a third and maybe the most important source for this resourcefulness. And it is the fact that whatever we are up to has the same structure as games.

Here’s how. In her best-selling book Reality Is Broken, Jane McGonigal, one of the best-known game designers in the world, identified games as having the following structure:

“What defines a game are the goal, the rules, the feedback system, and voluntary participation. Everything else is an effort to reinforce and enhance these four core components.” — Jane McGonigal, Reality Is Broken

You will agree that in every project, and also in every contract, there are all four components. For example, with job contracts, which lead to your job “games,” you have goals, rules, feedback system (the regular meetings you most likely have with your boss, before or after which you and your employer provide some kind of evaluation of each other), and both sides demonstrating voluntary participation by signing the employment contract.

Other activities, like sports to stay in shape, also have all four components. The same applies to the tasks our children get during homeschooling. These are games, with their definitions of the goals, rules, feedback systems. And fortunately for the children of today, many assignments not only look and feel like games, but they actually are games. Here is an endearing anecdote from this homeschooling time, which illustrates this fact and which I’ll treasure. Having watched my nine-year-old son doing school assignments online, my five-year-old daughter later asked both Niklas and us parents at the dinner table, “Will I get to play games like Niklas when I go to school too?”

(Continue reading on Medium)

This was also an excerpt from my book Gameful Isolation: Making the Best of a Crisis, the Self-Gamification Way. I hope you enjoyed it. If you would like to get access to the vlog accompanying the book then check out this page: victoriaichizlibartels.com/gameful-isolation/.